Often billed as ballet’s original ghost story, Giselle is the haunting love story of a young peasant girl and a noble who deceives her. The performance kicks off the 2014-15 Ballet West season and runs through November 16, 2014.
Newly conceived by Ballet West’s Artistic Director Adam Sklute, this classic and well-loved drama includes more than 50 dancers, a 48-piece orchestra and even four live hounds from the Utah Sighthounds Racing and Coursing Club.
Act I begins in Giselle’s German village where Albrecht, the Duke of Silesia, has concealed his identity to woe Giselle. Several wrinkles in the love story become evident as the story develops. First, Hilarion, a young woodsman who has been in love with Giselle for years discovers the couple and becomes suspicious of Albrecht’s sincerity. Giselle’s mother (Berthe, performed by Ballet Mistress Jane Wood Smith) is also concerned for her daughter’s fragile health and wants to protect her from harm. Finally, we learn that Albrecht is already engaged to Bathilde (Soloist Katlyn Addison), who has taken a liking to Giselle and given her a necklace (which Albrecht immediately recognizes). When Albrecht’s deception is revealed to Giselle, she goes mad and ends her life.
Act II opens in the forest where Giselle has been buried. The Wilis, ghost-like ballerinas who have been jilted by their lovers and now haunt the forest forcing unfaithful men to dance until they die, float across the stage in spine-tingling fashion. Lighting by Nicholas Cavallero and scenery on loan from the Louisville Ballet bring additional depth to the shadowy ethereal dancers.
The lover’s triangle continues in Act II as Hilarion appears first to mourn Giselle’s death. Principal Rex Tilton performed strongly and admirably as Hilarion on opening night—first in a powerful harvest celebration with the villagers in Act I and finally as the Wilis, lead by Myrthe (danced by Principal Christina Bennett), discover him and dance him to eventual exhaustion and finally death.
The perfect synchronization of the veiled Wilis dominate Act II with the corps de ballet in fine form and beautifully dressed in flowing, cream-colored outfits adorned with forest leaves. Both Giselle (Arolyn Williams, Principal) and Albrecht (Christopher Ruud, Principal) display their innate artistic abilities exceedingly well as they dance together throughout the ballet. As the performance concludes, Giselle’s shyness and naivety evaporate from Act I and her generosity and kindness toward Albrecht save his life and free her from the Wilis.
Giselle continues at Capitol Theatre Wednesday-Saturday, November 12-16 with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at ArtTix.org.
New Jessie Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre
Completed just in time for the opening of the fall arts season, the new addition of the Jessie Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre and lobby expansion of Capitol Theatre blend seamlessly in the interior with replicated chandeliers and decorative finishes on balconies and railings. Long needed, additional restrooms are now available on two levels. Yet another great reason to support the arts in Utah—there is always something new to see.